Thursday, August 15, 2013

Plays / Industry News

NEW PLAY Now Available - MOTHERHOOD OUT LOUD - Play Script Extracts


By Claire LaZebnik

By Jessica Goldberg

By Marco Pennette


By Claire LaZebnik

My son tells me that a girl in his English class agreed to go to the movies with him on Friday night, and I manage to say “Oh? Cool,” in the most relaxed, unconcerned, hey-it’s-your-life-not-mine kind of way.

I get her name out of him but not much more, so I check out her picture on his Facebook page. She’s actually kind of cute. And, look—she commented on one of his statuses! “Ha-ha. LOL.”

What a doll! I love her already.

At bedtime, I pop a xanax along with my calcium and wonder if Michael’s as nervous about this date as I am. God only knows. I seriously doubt he’d talk to me about his feelings. He’s male, he’s a teenager, and he’s autistic. The perfect trifecta for emotionally shutting out your mother.

Friday night, Michael puts on a button-down shirt. I blow my hair dry, dust on a little make-up, add a shpritz of perfume, and spend an hour trying to find something to wear that doesn’t make me look fat.

I beam at Chloe when we pick her up. “Hey, there! How ARE you? It’s SO great to meet you!”

“Uh, yeah, that’s my mom,” Michael mutters.

They sit side by side in the back seat. I can’t stop glancing at them in the rearview mirror: talk about cute—it’s like having two puppy dogs back there.

I drive them to the cinema. Hey, look at me! I’m dropping off my son and his date. His date! Maybe this is the beginning of a whole new era for us. You see, Michael was diagnosed with autism when he was three. He couldn’t talk or make eye contact and he flapped his arms all the time. I’d say it’s miraculous that he goes to a regular high school now, except I remember the billions of hours of speech and behavioral therapy it took to get him there.

And now he’s on his first date.

I’m waiting at the movie theater forever—got there way too early—but finally they’re coming out side by side and heading toward the car and I’m peering at them, trying to see what their expressions are, but I can’t really tell, all I can see is that they’re not actually talking to each other at the moment and that can’t be a good sign but maybe it’s not a bad sign either, maybe it’s a companionable silence.

When they get in the car, I ask how the movie was. Chloe says she liked it. Michael says it sucked. He says that the lead actress in it sucked and so did the music and the directing. Chloe says she thought the actress was really good. No, Michael says, that actress sucked, that actress always sucks. Chloe says no she doesn’t, she’s been in lots of good movies. Michael says you’re wrong, they’re all bad, and starts to list each and every movie the actress has ever been in, every one of which - you guessed it - sucked.

I can see the expression on Chloe’s face in the rearview mirror, and my heart sinks.

“To each his own!” I cut in desperately. “So, Chloe . . . tell me . . . what does your dad do for a living?”

She says he’s a lawyer.

“Oh, my God!” I say. “My dad’s a lawyer too. That is an amazing coincidence, isn’t it?”

Michael, the kid who never makes eye contact, shoots me a disgusted look in the rearview mirror. “So who’s ready for some frozen yogurt?!” I ask. “With way too many toppings? Let’s make ourselves sick!”

But Chloe says that she promised her parents she’d go straight home after the movies and just shakes her head when I offer to call them.

We get to her house, and she jumps out of the car and quickly thanks us before slamming the door and racing away.

“I probably should have kissed her goodnight,” Michael says.

“I’m not so sure,” I say.

“Why did you talk so much?” he says. “That was embarrassing.”

“I was trying to help you make conversation.”

“I didn’t need your help. You ruined everything.”

“No, you ruined everything!” And instantly I try to take it away: “Oh, god, Michael, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that. You did fine, it was fine, really, she probably just had to go home early like she said.”

He’s silent. I grip the steering wheel hard and pretend that I have some control over where we’re going.

(Lights Shift)


By Jessica Goldberg

Day before he left for Afghanistan we got the same tattoo, a small blue star on our right shoulder. Probably seems like a weird thing for a mother and son to do together, or so my ex loves to tell me, “that’s not right, no mother and son should be getting tattoos like that”. But then he didn’t raise him so what does he know?

Last time Brian was home on leave he told me ‘mom I seen things’. And that made me really sad because, well, because you want to know the world your boy has seen, you know? You want to see it first. You know what I’m saying? Like, you want to be the one to always go first into the dark, make sure there’s nothin’ scary there, and if there is, you want to be the one to make it safe. So it’s just, it’s just frustrating that you can’t do that. ‘Cause that’s what a mother does and knowin’, knowin’ you can’t, well, that is hard.  

But, as my ex says, Brian’s a grown man, and you should be proud.

Well I am proud! So proud. I’m proud of all my children, but he’s my soldier! Life on the line was never gonna’ be good enough for him like it is for his daddy. Brian always wanted somethin’ more. He was never gonna’ have no life of fixing windshield wipers onto trucks. After high school Brian worked EMT for a while, but that still wasn’t enough. Then one day he called me up so happy, ‘I found my calling mah’ he said, ‘I joined the Army, I’m gonna serve my Country’. Well, I just about fell off my chair, all I could think was: we are at war. You are going to have to go to war.

He did three and a half months of basic training at Fort Carson and was gone.

Now working EMT in Detroit is no piece of cake. That keeps a mother up at night, but it is nothing like this. Nothing like this at all. This is like… constant. ALL THE TIME. From waking to sleeping, and sleeping too, ‘cause you’re dreaming it. Half your time you spend trying not to look at the TV, at the newspaper, other half of the time you’re like why does no one care? Where is everyone?

Then one day there’s a knock on the door. I’m standing in the kitchen when it comes, I’m fixing dinner, I hear it: the doorbell, the knock. There’s three of them, that’s how they come, in threes- two guys in dress greens and a chaplain. They come like that and you know. My name, they’re saying my name, then his, they’re saying his name: Brian. What? Brian. I’m not prepared at all. I can’t hear. There’s water in my ears. I faint, I fall over, they tell me again: “Brian”. That’s when I rip their eyes out with my nails, with my teeth, I’m screaming. I want to go back in time. I want to stop time, but wait…

Wait… This isn’t real. It hasn’t happened.

I have to imagine it so that if it does happen I’m prepared.

My ex husband laughs when I tell him, “You’re being a damn fool you know? Doting, TATTOOING?! Brian is 22 years old! He laughs, laughs at me… (shakes her head)…

Well, you know what? F u. F F F U. ‘Cause you see, I will do whatever it takes, whatever it takes: I will tattoo my back with stars, 22 stars, one for each year of his life. 23 stars, 24, I will tattoo and tattoo. 75 stars, 80 stars and he will live that long, and he will live and he will live. I will tattoo my back the whole night sky and nothing bad will happen, and he will live, and he will come home, hundreds of stars, and my soldier will come home!

(Lights shift.)

By Marco Pennette

A muzak version of “Jingle Bell Rock” plays in the darkness. A department store. Lights up on a MAN holding shopping bags filled with presents. Santa Claus is in the distance. He suddenly turns to us, frustrated.

Un-fucking-believable. First words out of his mouth -- “Have you been a good girl for Mommy?”
(shakes his head)
Why am I surprised? They all say it -- Waitresses, salespeople. “Where’s your Mommy?” “Is Daddy giving Mommy a break?” Why should Santa be any different? But instead of pretending I didn’t hear it, I turn to him and yell, “Hey, Fat Boy, she doesn’t have a Mother!”
(back to us)
Okay, actually, I say nothing. I’ve got this thing with confrontation. I once had to see a therapist to help me break up with my other therapist. Besides, is it really my job to educate them all? I never asked to be the poster boy for gay parenting. I just wanted a child. Growing up, it was never a question I’d get married and have a family. It wasn’t till I was twelve and my father couldn’t get us tickets to “Annie” and I started hyperventilating on the kitchen floor that it became clear that I probably wouldn’t be marrying a woman. When my partner, Steve, and I decided to take the leap into parenthood, we’d been together eight years. That’s like fifty-six in hetero-time. Our gay friends reacted in their typical low-key demeanor.
(mock terrified)
“A baby?! What are you thinking? You own a suede sofa from Armani Casa!” The straight folks were also supportive in… their way. One of them actually said, “Isn’t it hard enough to raise a child in a normal family?” We crossed her off the godmother list. The first thing we had to do was find an egg donor and a surrogate. It’s preferred if these are two different people. The agency we were working with soon matched us with a potential surrogate -- Donna. A perky lesbian from Simi Valley. Healthy, a mother of two. Her profile said she wanted to help gay people become a family so she can show her kids the brave new world they live in.

So, we have this very bizarre “first date” at Starbucks with Donna and her girlfriend and basically try to cover everything in two hours -- “Where’d you go to school?” “Would you abort in the event of Downs Syndrome?” “Oh, we love Xena Warrior Princess, too!” Six lattes later we’re all jittery and love each other and agree to move forward. Next it’s time to begin our egg hunt. Every night Steve and I look at photos and read profiles. I fight for looks, he fights for brains -- I remind him we live in Los Angeles. When our child isn’t asked to her senior prom, he can sit in her room with her and do calculus. And just when we’re convinced there isn’t a candidate with the genetic make-up good enough for us, we find her. Donor 6247. A month later, sixteen eggs are extracted from this angel and as per the agreement we never see or hear from her again.

Steve and I are then called to the fertility center to do our part. We are escorted to separate “deposit closets…” or “masterbatoriums”… you get the idea… and this nurse hands me a specimen cup the size of a Big Gulp and tells me no water, no spit, no lube. Go! I start sweating. Two minutes later Steve knocks on the door to tell me he’s finished and I tell him I’m freaking out and I need a little support. He tells me to hurry the fuck up ‘cause our meter’s almost out. What a good father he’ll be. But the threat of a parking ticket does the trick and I quickly finish up. Seventy-two hours later we pick one lucky egg to transplant into Donna’s womb. And then we hold our breath... for ten very long days. I’m at work when Steve calls. He’s crying. Now Steve cries when he watches a “Little House On The Prairie” re-run so I’m not sure if we’re pregnant or if Pa burnt down the barn. But then he gets it out – he says we did it -- we’re having a “gaby.” We swear to each other we won’t tell anyone for three months. We tell everyone that afternoon.

We talk to Donna at least two times a day. She is the most amazingly responsible person I know, yet every night, visions of her doing bumps of crystal meth at some rave party dance in my head. When we visit her I sneak into her kitchen and go through her garbage to make sure there aren’t any empty cans of mercury tainted tuna fish. I read on the internet that “oral sex may cause air embolisms that could result in spontaneous abortions” which I try to work into casual conversation. It’s a long nine months. But we’re in the home stretch. And my latest fear is what happens the moment this baby is born. I want to make sure the doctor knows to hand the baby to Steve and me, not to our surrogate. I become obsessed -- we need to bond with the baby instantly. The baby comes to us. So, the big day arrives. Donna, her girlfriend, Steve and I sit in this hospital room. The nurses tell us everything looks good, nothing to do but wait. Four hours later the contractions are a minute apart and Donna’s allowed to start pushing. At this point my inner asshole comes out and I whisper again to the obstetrician -- the baby comes to us.

Now, Donna originally had wanted us to stay up at her head while the baby was being born -- which was fine with me. Saw one of those things in the nineties, never need to see it again. But when the baby starts crowning she yells, “Get down there! You can’t miss this!” And as always, she’s right. Steve actually helps catch our daughter as she’s being delivered. Then the nurse wraps her in a blanket and I hold my daughter for the first time. I look up and see Donna watching us – sweaty, snotty, tears running down her cheeks -- And once again, all plans out the window. I instantly hand the baby over for her to hold -- as it should be. She wanted to make us a family. And she did.

Sometimes we don’t feel so different from everyone else… and other times it’s “Where’s your mommy?” And as I look at my now three year old
daughter, I realize it’s my turn to show my child the brave new world she lives in.

Christmas music fades back in.

So as she gets off Santa’s lap, I turn to him and say (to imaginary Santa) “Hey buddy, there is no mother. She doesn’t have one. She just has two people who love her more than anyone ever could. And that’s her Daddy and her Papa.” My daughter pipes in “That’s what makes me special.” And I think it couldn’t get any better... but then I hear the little girl behind us burst into tears. And when her mother asks her what’s wrong, she says, “I only have a Daddy. I want a Papa, too!”
Brave new world.

(Lights shift)

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